Archive for the ‘Vancouver Canucks’ Category

The Florida Panthers started off this season 3-1 but with two 3-0 losses (to Washington and Buffalo), GM Dale Tallon continued to shake up the team’s roster.  After a summer of rebuilding virtually the entire roster, it seemed like the wheeling and dealing was finished.

Last night, the Panthers shook things up and traded away mainstay forward David Booth (along with Steven Reinprecht and a third round pick) to the Vancouver Canucks. In exchange Florida received veteran forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm. Booth had been with the Panthers for the last five seasons, playing 309 games, scoring 87 goals and 167 points. He had missed most of the 2009-10 season with a concussion, and hasn’t been the same since. In 2008-09 he hit the 30 goal plateau and finished with 60 points. Last season he put up a respectable 23-17-40 but wasn’t the same player before the hit, finishing at a -31.

So why trade a promising young forward for two aging forwards? (more…)

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With Boston’s 4-1 loss to Carolina last night, the four conference finalists from last season (Boston, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Vancouver) are a combined 6-13-3 in this young season.  All four are in the bottom third in the leagues in standings, although it is still early and there is plenty of time to turn it around.

Let’s take a look at what ails each team.

The Boston Bruins have only allowed 2.17 goals per game (10th) but can’t score.  They are dead last in goals per game (1.67).  They’ve only scored more than two goals in a game once, a 4-1 win over Tampa on October 8th.    Obviously, with the team’s offense struggling, one would assume that their powerplay would suffer.  That would be correct, as the Bruins are near the bottom at 8.3%.  Rich Peverley is the team’s leading goal scorer (3) and only he and Marchand have multiple goals.  This is a far cry from last season when they finished fifth in the league in goals for.

Roberto Luongo allows a goal in a loss to the Flyers.

Vancouver has scored more than Boston (2.33) but it’s not enough to get the job done, not with the lineup they have.  But their biggest problem is that they can’t stop anyone.  They’re tied for fifth worst in goals allowed per game (3.17).  Their penalty killing is near the bottom of the league at 79.3%, and they’ve been shorthanded 29 times so far, which is near the league high.  Looking deeper into the numbers show that starting goalie Roberto Luongo has continued his struggles from June.  After four games, he has a 3.70 GAA and a .856 save percentage.  Backup Cory Schneider (2.03, .953) has been considerably better, but he won’t wrestle the starting job from Luongo any time soon.

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Last season: 54-19-9 117 pts, 1st Northwest, 1st Western Conference

Additions: Niklas Jensen (1st round pick), Andrew Ebbett, Marco Sturm, Mark Mancari, Niclas Bergfors, Byron Bitz,

Losses: Christian Ehrhoff, Alexandre Bolduc, Jeff Tambellini, Lee Sweatt, Nathan Paetsch, Rick Rypien, Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass,

Offense: While as deep offensively as the Canucks are, they are going to get a bit of a challenge early on with injuries to Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond. Still though there are plenty of horses in this stable with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows, growing Jannik Hansen, and potentially a healthy dose of Cody Hodgson this season as well.

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Here are some thoughts on some of the potential rule changes being looked at in the NHL Research And Development Camp:

NHL Research And Development Camp (Photo:THN)

 Hybrid Icing: Safety is the main issue that gets addressed here (Remember Kurtis Foster’s injury?), without taking away from the game. Easily something I think that should be implemented in the game.  Although some would argue about the officiating on certain calls, which is the only real argument against it.

No Icing While Shorthanded: If the NHL can find a way to boost scoring, they’ll test it out (Remember the idea of round nets?) Now, I understand the want to score more often, but I don’t really like this idea. You should be able to ice the puck while shorthanded, make the other team actually have to work on the powerplay. The other guy has two or five minutes in the box, that should eb enough of a penalty on his team.

Overtime Changes ( 4 minutes 4 on 4, then 3 minutes of 3 on 3): If this gets rid of the shootout (unless the shootout goes to 5 shooters), im all for it. However, I really do not like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey, it should be 4 on 4 minimum.  Would be interesting to do on a test run basis in the NHL.

No Line Change For Team That Is Offsides: Honestly, I like this idea, if a line can’t come into the zone onsides, they shouldn’t be able to change. Honestly, unless the players on the line have been on the ice a while, but, going offsides is their own fault, is it not? But,like the next rule, it could have an impact on the game negatively.

Faceoff In Own Zone After Offsides Is Called: Now this, I do not like, at all. This would encourage dump and chase hockey, which, just isn’t that good  to watch from a fan standpoint. I don’t see this rule making it very far at all, it will not see the light of day in the NHL.

Eliminate The Trapezoid: Yes, yes, and yes. Getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net has my approval. Goalies should be aloud to play the puck, there is no good reason this rule was ever implemented. Goalies doing a bit more work, I don’t see any defensemen who would have to chase the puck otherwise, that would argue against that. Let the goalies be free from the evil trapezoid!

Goal Line Camera: A brilliant idea I can’t believe they didn’t think of sooner! So many close calls, some right , some wrong . Now, if we can work on defining “kicking motions”, that would be another huge step forward. I would really like to see this implemented in the NHL. But I feel it might not be 100% fool proof depending on the camera’s position if say, the goalie was on top of the puck.

After the regular season, we took it upon ourselves to vote for five major NHL awards (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Adams).  With the awards show tomorrow night, let’s take a quick look back on how we did voting wise and who the frontrunner for those awards are.

Hart Memorial Trophy
This year, the three finalists are: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. Our voting had Perry, Sedin and Tim Thomas. With no disrespect to St. Louis, this is a two horse race. Corey Perry had 50 goals and dominated down the stretch. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals, and 104 points, winning the Art Ross. Both guys are deserving but there can only be one winner. This season Perry’s been the most valuable to his team and should pick up the Hart. However, Sedin should win the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player) award.

Vezina Trophy
The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Bruins’ Tim Thomas are the finalists for the Vezina trophy. All three made were our finalists also. Thomas should dominate the voting and easily pick up the hardware this year, which would be his second Vezina (2009).

James Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber are the 2010-11 finalists. Our voting was close, with those three defenseman along with Lubomir Visnovsky finishing as our top vote getters. (Yes, I know that is four, but we had a 3-way tie for 2nd). Even though he’s not as well known as his co-finalists, Weber had a fantastic season and should win his first NHL trophy.

Calder Memorial Trophy
This year, the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Islanders’ Michael Grabner and Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner are the NHL’s finalists. Once again, our top 3 voted finalists match the NHL’s. All three topped 30 goals and 50 points. Couture and Skinner will likely go 1-2 (in some order) but Couture is the pick here.

Jack Adams Award
The NHL’s finalist for the Adams Award are: Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault. Unfortunately, of those three only Bylsma made our finalists. The other two were Tampa’s Guy Boucher and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire. The frontrunner should be Bylsma, who almost won the Atlantic Division, despite his two best players (Crosby and Malkin) being injured.

Our voting produced 12 of the 15 NHL’s finalists. So who will win some of the other awards?

Ryan Kesler seems like the heavy favorite to unseat 3-time defending winner Pavel Datsyuk (a co-finalist) for the Selke Trophy. Datsyuk isn’t even going to Las Vegas for the awards show, and could be a sign of a new winner. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews is the other candidate.

The Lady Byng was another Datsyuk specialty, winning four times since the lockout. However, he was in a fight this season which prompted the internet to joke that he “blew his Byng chances.” Last year’s winner Martin St. Louis is in the running once again, along with Lidstrom and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. St. Louis will probably win the award again this year.

The Masterton trophy is given to a player that shows perseverance and this year’s field has gone through a lot. Ray Emery (degenerative hip condition), Daymond Langkow (neck injury) and Ian Laperriere (brain injury) all are deserving, but this year’s winner has to be Emery. Thought to possibly have trouble walking in the future (let alone playing hockey), Emery rehabbed most of this season, and signed with the Ducks in February, playing in 16 games (including playoffs) for Anaheim.

One other award up for grabs is the Messier Leadership award. Chara, Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Shane Doan are this year’s finalists. The Coyotes battled relocation rumors all season and still managed to finish fifth. Doan’s been Phoenix’s captain since 2003. He was also Canada’s captain in the 2007 World Championships. He should be recognized for his leadership.

The three of us continue our mock draft from Part I (1-15).

16. Buffalo Vladislav Namestnikov, C (London, OHL)
His speed and forechecking will be 2 valuable assets to the Buffalo Sabres system.  Another plus is his ability to switch from center to wing, making him fit on any line with little to no effort.

17. Montreal Zack Phillips, C (St. John, QMJHL)
Centering the top line at St John’s and improving his linemates scoring outputs in addition to his own makes him a great option if still available at #17.

18. Chicago Tomas Jurco, RW (St. John, QMJHL)
What hands he has, a real whiz with the puck.  A Youtube star already.

19. Edmonton Oscar Klefbom, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Will be a great addition to Edmonton’s defense, he adds decent size (6’4″, 200lbs), and a nice shot to the blueline.

20. Phoenix Joel Armia, RW (Assat, SML)
An intriguing prospect that can appear quite high for many teams from the 10 pick onward. His combination of size and skill would complement Phoenix well.

21. Ottawa John Gibson, G (USA U-18)
Already 6’3, 205 at age 17, he covers up a lot of net.  Lead USA to gold at the U18s.

22. Anaheim Brandon Saad, LW (Saginaw, OHL)
The Ducks will love Saad’s ability on the ice, speed is his greatest asset. Has a nice balance of offensive/defensive ability.

23. Pittsburgh Nicklas Jensen, LW/RW (Oshawa, OHL)
A strong skater with good scoring ability at the RW will fit well for the Pens in due time under a Dan Byslma system. Add in his size and you also may have a future net front presence.

24. Detroit Jonas Brodin, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Brodin is a good skating, two-way defenseman.  Plays a smart game in his end, and will fit right in with Detroit.

25. Toronto Boone Jenner, C (Oshawa, OHL)
The Leafs are going to love this guy, a shot blocker, board battler, and he’s not too bad at scoring either. And more all around good players, is exactly what Toronto needs in their system.

26. Washington Mark Scheifele, C (Barrie, OHL)
His size and skill down the middle would fit the Capitals to a T. As they recently have had an abundance of big players who still have skill and speed.

27. Tampa Bay Jamieson Oleksiak, D (Northeastern, HE)
The 6’7, 245 monster may need some more time to develop, but could eventually be Tampa’s Twin Towers with Hedman.

28. San Jose Scott Mayfield, D (Youngstown, USHL)
Extremely sturdy on his feet, smart, great puck carrier, but never afraid to fight or deliver a big hit when it’s needed. Could be huge for the Sharks in the future.

29. Vancouver Jonathan Miller, C (USA U-18)
While the Canucks can use a pure scorer in their talent pool. This late in the first round they may have to accept a project of a good two-way player who didn’t quite put it all together this past season. A worthwhile risk.

30. Toronto Tyler Biggs, RW (USA U-18)
A big, physical forward that likes to use his size and isn’t afraid to work hard.  Definitely a Brian Burke player.

Cujo picks: 16,19,22,25,28
Joey picks: 17,20,23,26,29
RD picks: 18,21,24,27,30

Many young hockey players across the globe have dreams of scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in game 7.  Game 7s are nerve-racking for both players and fans.  One win away from ultimate glory, but one goal away from bitter defeat.

Mark Messier. Jari Kurri. Henri Richard. Jean Beliveau. Andy Bathgate.  Gordie Howe. Hall of Famers; also players scoring the game winning goal in a Stanley Cup game 7.  But, the list isn’t limited to stars.  Max Talbot, Frantisek Kaberle, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mike Rupp are also on that list.  But Hall of Famer or not, the player who scores the Cup clinching goal is etched into the minds of their fans forever.  He’s a hero, regardless if he is a first liner or fourth liner.

Some kids carried their dream further and dreamed about scoring a game 7 winner in overtime, but that does not happen in the NHL too often.  The last time the Stanley Cup was won in overtime in a game 7 was 1954 by Detroit’s Tony Leswick.  Leswick dumped the puck into the Canadiens’ zone, where it deflected off a defenseman and into the net.  He did not even realize he had scored until he saw his teammates celebrating.

So who scores the Cup clincher tonight?  Twitterers threw in their opinions.

The popular choice was Ryan Kesler, who @Mfreys, @DurtyPuckhead, @lyssaaaah and @TheNatch_ picked despite not having a goal in this series. @MattyTets picked Alex Burrows based on the fact that he’s been “clutch all postseason.”  Burrows has 9 playoff goals, 2 of them winners, including Vancouver’s game 2 win.   @Shmermel and @AngrytownsMayor chose unsung heroes, going with Jannik Hansen and Tanner Glass respectively.  @Pucktacular went with the man who eliminated the Sharks, Kevin Bieska.  @Mtrible and @JoeyHurricane chose game 1’s hero, Raffi Torres.

The Bruins got some love, though.  @PhillyReign_MD said Johnny Boychuk “burns one in the twine” in the second overtime.  @ActiveStick_44 picked Mark Recchi because “experience is nothing to undervalue. Recchi has it and he has all the determination in the world to come out and play like it’s his last shot at ever hoisting the Stanley Cup again. He has been in a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final before [2006 with Carolina]. In games like these it’s not the star players that create a great story. Recchi is not one of the superstars in this series, but you can expect him to come up huge tonight.” @RobDickinsonAB went along with the non-star theory and chose Brad Marchand.  @Puremetal33 picked playoff scoring leader, David Krejci (12 goals, 23 points).

Who do I pick?  Torn between my head (Daniel Sedin) and my heart (Manny Malhotra).  I think it would be a great story if Malhotra ended up scoring the Cup clincher after the rocky season he’s had.  But I’m going with my head and picking Daniel Sedin.